My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
The First Enemies of the Veneration of
the Mother of God.
By Saint John Maximovitch
THE MORE the faith of Christ spread and the Name of the Savior of the world was glorified on earth, and together with Him also She Who was vouchsafed to be the Mother of the God-Man, –the more did the hatred of the enemies of Christ increase towards Her. Mary was the Mother of Jesus. She manifested a hitherto unheard-of example of purity and righteousness, and furthermore, now departed from this life. She was a mighty support for Christians, even though invisible to bodily eyes. Therefore all who hated Jesus Christ and did not believe in Him, who did not understand His Teachings, or to be more precise, did not wish to understand as the Church understood, who wished TO REPLACE THE PREACHING OF CHRIST WITH THEIR OWN HUMAN REASONING–ALL OF THESE TRANSFERRED THEIR HATRED FOR CHRIST, FOR THE GOSPEL AND THE CHURCH, TO THE Most Pure Virgin Mary. They wished to belittle the Mother, so as thereby to destroy faith also in Her Son, to create a false picture of Her among men in order to have the opportunity to rebuild the whole Christian teaching on a different foundation. In the womb of Mary, God and man WERE UNITED. She was the One Who served as it were as the Ladder for the Son of God, Who DESCENDED FROM HEAVEN. To strike a blow at Her VENERATION MEANS TO STRIKE CHRISTIANITY at the root, to destroy it in its very foundation.
And the very beginning of Her heavenly glory was marked on earth by an outburst of malice and hatred toward Her BY UNBELIEVERS. When, after Her holy repose (dormition), the Holy Apostles were carrying her body for burial in Gethsemane to the place chosen by her; Saint John the Theologian went ahead carrying THE BRANCH FROM PARADISE WHICH THE ARCHANGEL GABRIEL HAD BROUGHT TO THE Holy Virgin THREE DAYS BEFORE THIS WHEN HE CAME FROM HEAVEN TO ANNOUNCE TO HER APPROACHING DEPARTURE TO THE HEAVENLY MANSIONS.
"When Israel went out of Egypt, and the house of Jacob from among a barbarous people," chanted Saint Peter from Psalm 113; "ALLELUIA," sand the whole assembly of the Apostles together with their disciples, as for example Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, who likewise had been miraculously transported at that time to Jerusalem. And while this holy hymn was being sung, which was called by the Jews the "GREAT ALLELUIA," THAT IS, THE GREAT "PRAISE YE THE LORD," one Jewish priest, Athonius, leaped up to the bier and wished to overturn it and throw to the ground the body of the Mother of God.
The brazenness of Anthonius has immediately punished: the Archangel Michael with an invisible sword cut off his hand, which remained hanging on the bier. The thunderstruck Anthonius, experiencing a tormenting pain, in awareness of his sin, turned in prayer to Jesus Who he had hated up to then and he was immediately healed. He did not delay in accepting Christianity and confessing it before his former co-religionists, for which he received from them a martyr’s death. Thus, the attempt to offend the honor of the Mother of God served for Her GREATER GLORIFICATION.
The enemies of Christ resolved not to manifest their lack of veneration for the body of the Most-Pure One further at that time by crude violence, but their malice did not cease. Seeing that Christianity was spreading everywhere, they began to spread various vile slanders about Christians. They did not spare the name of the Mother of Christ either, and they invented the story that Jesus of Nazareth had come from a base and immoral environment, and that His Mother had associated with a certain Roman soldier.
But here the lie was too evident for this fiction to attract serious attention. The whole family of Joseph the Betrothed and Mary Herself were known well by the inhabitants of Nazareth and the surrounding countryside in their time. "Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His Mother called Mary, and His brethren: James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? (Matthew 13:54-55; Mark 6:3; Lune 4:22.) So said His fellow countrymen in Nazareth when Christ revealed before them in the synagogue His other-worldly wisdom. In small towns the family matters of everyone are well known; very strict watch was kept them over the purity of married life.
Would people really have behaved with respect towards Jesus, called Him to preach in the synagogue, if He had been born of illegitimate cohabitation? To Mary the Law of Moses would have been applied, which commanded that such persons be stoned to death; and the Pharisees would have taken the opportunity many times to reproach Christ for the conduct of His Mother. But just the contrary was the case. Mary enjoyed great respect; at Cana, She was an honored guest at the wedding, and even when Her Son was condemned, no one allowed himself to ridicule or censure His Mother…
"… The Jewish slanderers strove to prove that at least that Mary was not a virgin when She gave birth to Christ. They even said that the prophecies concerning the birth-giving of the Messiah by a virgin had never existed and that therefore it was entirely in vain that Christians thought to exalt Jesus by the fact that a prophecy was supposedly being fulfilled in Him.
Jewish translators were found (Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion) who made new translations of the Old Testament into Greek and in these translated the well-known prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14) thus: "Behold, a young woman will conceive." They asserted that the Hebrew word Aalma signified "young woman" and not "virgin," has stood in the sacred translation of the Seventy Translators (Septuagint), where this passage had been TRANSLATED "BEHOLD, A VIRGIN SHALL CONCEIVE."
By this translation, they wished to prove that Christians, on the basis of an incorrect translation of the word Aalma, thought to ascribe to Mary something impossible–a birth-giving without a man, while in actuality the birth of Christ was not in the least different from other human births…
"… The seedless birth of Chrit can and could be denied ONLY by those who deny the Gospel, whereas the Church of Christ from of old confesses Christ "INCARNATE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ANDTHE VIRGIN MARY." But the birth of God from the Ever-Virgin was a stumbling block FOR THOSE WHO WISHED TO CALL THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS BUT DID NOT WISH TO HUMBLE THEMSELVES IN MIND AND BE ZEALOUS FOR PURITY OF LIFE. The pure life of Mary was a reproach for those who were impure also in their thoughts. (Source: The Orthodox Veneration of MARY the Birthgiver of God)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George